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Labatt USA to move operations to Pegula-owned building

Labatt USA, the Buffalo-based importer of the Canadian beer brand, is relocating its headquarters from Fountain Plaza to a Cobblestone District warehouse the Pegulas plan to redevelop.

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Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the umbrella arm for Terry and Kim Pegula's business empire, will announce Wednesday it intends to renovate the five-story Hi-Temp Fabrication building at 79 Perry St. into a mixed-use facility that will include office space for Labatt USA.

Specific details of the plans were not yet available on Tuesday, although Business First reported the project may include a ground-floor restaurant and small brewery, additional retail or commercial space, or even apartments. Neither Don Heins, director of communications for PSE, nor Mary Beth Popp, director of corporate relations for North American Breweries, which owns Labatt USA, would comment.

Instead, they referred reporters to a news conference that will be held Wednesday morning on Alumni Plaza, featuring PSE President and Managing Partner Russ Brandon, North American Breweries CEO Kris Sirchio and Labatt USA General Manager Glen Tibbits.

Located at the corner of Illinois and Perry streets, the 79,030-square-foot building was originally constructed in 1914 for Peerless Mill Supply Co. That company's successor, Peerless Inc., still occupies part of the building, along with Hi-Temp, which is owned by the McKendry family.

The Pegulas bought the building from the McKendrys in February, paying $7 million, but did not elaborate on their plans for it. Hi-Temp and Peerless will relocate later this year.

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Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills, HarborCenter, and other businesses, maintains its corporate offices at the nearby Fairmont Creamery Building at 199 Scott St., within sight of the Hi-Temp building. It's not clear if the Pegulas might also move their own company to be closer to the Sabres arena and other assets.

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Labatt USA, which has the exclusive rights to import, market and sell Labatt beer in the United States, is separate from the original Canadian company, which is owned by Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev.

As part of the $52 billion acquisition of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch by Amsterdam-based Inbev in 2008, the companies agreed to divest the U.S. Labatt business, which was acquired by Rochester-based North American Breweries.

Labatt USA, which employs over 50 people locally, is currently located on the 9th floor of 50 Fountain Plaza, where it has been based since 2007, when it moved from Connecticut.

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